“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
It’s that time of the year. One year is fixing to leave and another one looms over the horizon with the promise of a fresh start. We approach the date with anticipation hoping to achieve our dreams this time. That enthusiasm, however, it’s gone by January 31st and out with normal selves we go, until next December.
This post is going to give you the cutting-edge tools to achieve your goals this year. Let this be the year you achieve your dreams and the results you want. But for now, let’s clarify a few definitions and realities.
First, dreaming is good but a dream will remain just a dream if we don’t set a realistic deadline to achieve it. A goal is a dream with a deadline. Remember that. Second, objectives are part of a larger goal, mini-steps if you would. Third, and final are the tasks. Tasks are the little actions you take to achieve your objectives.
- Goals are written: A goal not written down is hope and hope it is not a strategy.
- Goals are concrete and specific. “I have better relationships with kids” is lofty and fluffy as a cloud dream. “I get home earlier so I can have dinner with my family and play with my kids”, it’s a much better objective.
- Goals are yours no one else’s: For example, You can’t have a goal for your husband to be more romantic. You can, however, drop hints with fireworks, neon signs, write it on a sign by the highway, leave him a detailed recording, a YouTube video… etc., etc. (you get my drift), for him to include it on his’
- Goals are realistic: Way too often we set out to achieve goals with unrealistic expectations and pat ourselves in the back when we achieve our self-fulfilling prophecy of gloom and doom. Nature follows an order. If you set out to lose 100 pounds in 15 days, it’s not only improbable but also dangerous.
- Goals have a deadline: “I pay off half of my credit card debt” is a great idea but not so much if it takes half of your lifetime.
Goal Achieving Process:
- Don’t write down 100 things: but a few (no more than five) in each functional area of your life (i.e. spirituality, relationships, finances, health, etc.)
- Establish a tracking/planning system: I highly recommend the Franklyn Covey Planners, (Online version available) and or this little App I found a few years back called Life Ticker. At the heart of this system is the breakdown of goals into manageable units.
I want to lose 20 pounds by June 2017 (a concrete and realistic goal):
Objective 1: I read at least two books on nutrition and fitness
Task 1: I visit the library, download books or visit the bookstore by January 7th.
Task 2: Using this information I create a nutrition and workout plan.
Objective 2: I join a gym or fitness club (if you are more of an extrovert).
Task 1. I look for signing up deals and offers
Task 2: I read reviews of my local fitness trainers
Objective 3: I set aside and schedule a time for working out and make it a priority
Task 1: I commit myself to set aside time for working out. I put it on my planners and make an appointment with myself.
Task 2: I recruit and/or get the buy-in from my friends and family for moral support allowing me to take time for myself to do this.
Objective 4: Get going, measure and record my progress. I adjust and change the things that aren’t working.
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Now, here is a technique you won’t find anywhere else and it’s at the heart of my writings. It’s called “task hacking” ™.
During your planning process, you carefully study a task, break it down into pieces and research different ways of getting things done faster and more efficiently seeking the best results possible. This is done through two different techniques.
(1) Deliberate practice: This technique is at the heart of mastery. It’s focusing on the now and the mechanics of the process of whatever you are doing rather than the results. It’s a very Zen, and mindful approach. Focus on improving every step of the process rather than the result.
(2) Modeling: look for the masters in the subject of whatever you are trying to get done or learning and model their behavior and techniques. Then, as William James used to write about “act as if”. Combining these powerful techniques, you will be plowing through tasks at unstoppable speeds.
Remember: tasks are what objectives are made of and objectives are what goals are made of. Using Task Hacking ™ you can achieve your goals faster than ever.
- Keep an Eye on your Goals: I mean this literally. Carry them with you, have a copy by your bed. Make a point to read them first thing in the morning. Sometime mid-day (maybe at your lunchtime) and before you go to bed. Do this every day.
- Visualize your Goals: Imagine yourself achieving your goals, feel that feeling of accomplishment that comes with it. Allow yourself to take an advance payment of that victory feeling. I highly recommend creating a vision board. John Assaraf called The Complete Vision Board in which he writes in detail about and how to create one. But my $0.10 cents version is to cut out images representing the major goals you want to achieve and put it on white cardboard. Place it near your bed at a location where they are the last thing you see before you fall asleep and the first thing you see in the morning. This will train your subconscious mind to tune in for achieving your goals. It will remind you of the things you want to achieve and put them on your radar. You can get his book at ebooks.com and get 12% off on his book.
Using the Power of the Seasons
- Use the power of the seasons to achieve your goals: This may seem counterintuitive to some and if you don’t like it that’s okay. The rest of the techniques will still help you to achieve your dreams. However, I encourage you to give this a try.
Align yourself with nature. Nature follows a seasonal pattern. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere the New Year comes at the beginning of Winter. During winter, days are short, rainy, cold, snowy and gray. The perfect backdrop for an anti-depression medication commercial. Thus, it is very hard to muster the motivation to get going and doing what you want to achieve. Use the following pattern instead
- Winter: This is the season for dreaming and planning. Don’t get into a rush of trying to run 15 miles a week to train for that marathon. Use this season to decide what you want for next year. For planning and to gather the resources (buying books, signing up for a health club membership, research, etc.) Use this season for carefully planning and task hacking ™. Get all the resources you need to get your projects, plans and ideas going. I don’t mean by this that you should procrastinate. If there are things you can only do during this time (for example, the best deals on gym memberships are during this time) do it. If you have enough motivation to get some things going, go ahead. Just don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t achieve things during this time. Remember this is the season for dreaming and planning.
- Spring: Now it’s time to jump into action and get things moving. Just as nature starts to wake up. It’s time to ease up and start ramping up with your new year. Spring is truly Nature’s New Year. Go along with it and start moving progressively faster towards your goals. Remember Spring it’s the time for Waking up.
- Summer: Time for action. Time to plant the seeds of your success and move full steam ahead. Days are longer thus you have more time and energy to achieve more.
- Fall: It’s harvest time. It’s time for slowing down a bit and enjoy the harvest and fruits of your labor. It’s time for self-reflection and evaluation of what you have achieved in preparation for the next Year.
There you have it. This method is very powerful. Perhaps you may not want to do it every year but even if you do it occasionally I can assure you will see results. I have tried this myself with incredible results.
- Either hold yourself accountable or find somebody else who will do it for you: Film yourself in a note to yourself video. Use reminders for keeping track of your goals etc. For the extroverts, find your selves a good friend or family member who will hold you accountable and help you to cut through your excuses and motivate you through the self-pity parties. Somebody who is going to hold your feet to the fire without judging.
- Break the major goal into a series of mini-goals and reward yourself when you achieve them: If you are going to deprive yourself of dinner in your favorite restaurant until you lose weight. You are going to be off the wagon before it reaches the first pit-stop. Try this instead, set up a goal, let’s say losing 1o pounds by March 31st. Your halfway point. If you (or rather when you) reach that goal reward yourself with something you truly enjoy. It’s the psychological principle of anchoring when you associate anything with something positive, you’ll look for (consciously or subconsciously) ways to repeat the pleasant experience. To repeat the pleasant experience, you must achieve a goal. You will be rewiring your brain to get rewards for being goal-achieving oriented. I hope you can appreciate the possibilities of how powerful this technique can be.
The techniques above are backed by research, science and the testimony of many people who have tried them. Use some or use them all. I hope you have a very blessed New Year and that you may achieve all the desires that your heart holds dear. Drop me a line next December and let me know how it went. Cheers to your success!!!
By Jeff Hamilton
Jeff is a writer & entrepreneur among many other things. You can read more of his musings at www.thetaoliving.com or follow him on Twitter at @taoliving.